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Liberian Rebel Leader Calls for Head of Gov't to Step Down - 2003-10-25

The leader of Liberia's largest rebel group, Sekouh Conneh, has called on the head of the nation's new transitional government to step down. Mr. Conneh's call comes as workers stage street protests at the reappointment of former members of ex-president Charles Taylor's government to key posts.

Sekouh Conneh, who leads the rebel group known as Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy, or LURD, said Gyude Bryant, the head of the transitional government, is preventing LURD members from joining the new power-sharing arrangement.

The rebel leader said Mr. Bryant has not approved the list of five Cabinet ministers nominated by LURD. "If he cannot work with us," said Mr. Conneh, "he must step down or we will pull him out of the government."

In August, all sides in war-torn Liberia signed an accord to pave the way for a power-sharing government to oversee the return to peace, and to set the stage for elections within two years.

Meanwhile, workers groups on Friday protested at the reappointment of some members of exiled former President Charles Taylor's former government.

Up to 100 broadcasters, technicians and journalists protested outside the state radio compound, after Allison Barco was reappointed as director general.

Boekarie Musa, head of the workers union, accuses Mr. Barco of, among other things, being a mouthpiece of the former government. "One, he's not competent. Two, he's corrupt. Number Three, if we allow him to be the director general, he is going to make the radio station completely for the people of the former government. This man is the propaganda committee chairman of the former government. How can he now head the national station?" he said.

United Nations peacekeepers have been deployed to positions in the state radio station compound. The building has been sealed until the matter is resolved.

Winston Monboe, a journalist in Liberia, said there is surprise and resentment in Liberia that old faces loyal to Charles Taylor are being allowed to return to key posts in the transitional government.